Training ground dedication pays dividends for Conor Chaplin

  • Chaplin has scored five goals in 17 appearances for Pompey
  • The forward presently heads the Blues’ goal-scoring charts with four, ahead of Gary Roberts (three)

There are days when Leam Richardson has to wrestle Conor Chaplin’s boots off his feet to prevent him training.

Such is the boundless exuberance and insatiable appetite for football demonstrated by Fratton Park’s latest product.

I just think he’s a forward-thinking player who has goals in him and affects games. If he does that on the pitch he can play anywhere

Leam Richardson

The 18-year-old has lit up the Blues this season as he continues to flourish.

A double in last weekend’s 3-1 victory over Barnet in his second-ever Football League start increased his goal tally for the campaign to four.

The fixture saw Chaplin initially operate as part of an attacking midfield three, before a half-time formation switch prompted him to relocate to a striking role in a 3-5-2.

It’s an attacking versatility he continues to display under the tutelage of Paul Cook and his staff.

And according to Pompey’s assistant manager, the Worthing youngster’s tireless application on the training ground is reaping dividends.

Richardson said: ‘I am a big believer that if you have good habits and a good philosophy from Monday to Friday it will always come out on a Saturday – and Conor does that.

‘He is repetitively trying to practice, one of those players I have to drag off the training pitch physically sometimes.

‘I had to take his boots off for him the other day so he didn’t kick any more balls!

‘Sure enough he gets his rewards against Barnet last weekend.

‘My view is Conor’s best position is anywhere on the pitch where he scores goals. He can play in areas and pockets where he is dynamic and can express his technique.

‘He can be a striker as well, we put him up front on Saturday for a period. He likes coming off a striker, he likes playing as a number 10, he can play either side of the attacking three.

‘I just think he’s a forward-thinking player who has goals in him and affects games. If he does that on the pitch he can play anywhere.

‘The modern-day game dictates where you play, he is still learning the game, you have got to remember he is 18.

‘Out of possession you are up against a certain criteria, in possession you must be effective and positive, and he is still learning, coming on in leaps and bounds to be honest.

‘Like you saw on Saturday, he has been on the pitch a few times now and scores goals, long may he continue to do that.’

On Pompey’s books since the age of six, Chaplin became a first-year professional in October 2014 – while a second-year scholar with the Academy.

He was also named as League 2 LFE Apprentice of the Year award at a gala dinner in London in April.

And the forward made his impact on the pitch on Saturday having been selected in place of Gareth Evans.

Richardson added: ‘We put Conor in there to score goals and try to get a result.

‘I think the lads have done very well since we came in, there have been a lot of changes since the summer, a lot of hype around us, and we just felt at this point we needed to freshen things up and put a bit of energy in there.

‘Thankfully it worked well and that was Conor’s and Adam McGurk’s day, it has been other people’s days previously.’